Wayne Rooney has been synonymous with Manchester United over the past 10 years but in the last two, he has been under uncharted scrutiny.
His scrutiny has coincided with Manchester United's steep decline, as a result the Englishman now faces a level of competition that is greater than he has ever faced before. But where does that leave Rooney?
Louis van Gaal's favoured formations tend to be 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1. A 4-3-3 would give Rooney three choices: an opportunity to play up front - though given Louis van Gaal's fondness of Rooney that appears unlikely; a role on the left/wing of the attack - though Rooney's lack of versatility could count against him in those positions; or a place in central midfield - highly unlikely as the club chases Arturo Vidal and Angel Di Maria.
In a 4-2-3-1, Rooney has more scope to play in the starting lineup as the number 10. However, there are two issues with playing Rooney in that role; the first being Rooney's best performances for United have coincided when he was the main man up front. In fact, Rooney has only ever scored over 20 goals in the Premier League twice - both when he was the main man.
Whenever Rooney has been deployed as a number 10 his game has been riddled with inconsistency. Furthermore, Rooney faces competition from players far suited to the number 10 role such as Juan Mata and possibly Angel Di Maria.
A simply solution would be for van Gaal to change his formation to accommodate Rooney into the team. He did it with the Netherlands when Kevin Strootman suffered a long term injury, changing his preferred 4-3-3 to a 5-3-2, enduring spectacular results.
However, whenever Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes attempted to play the duo in tandem, they often got in each others way. With Robin van Persie universally seen as the better (at the very least more reliable) of the two, Rooney often took a backseat.
Theoretically there is no space for Rooney, however, the £300,000 a week contract he signed in the beginning of the year says otherwise.
The United hierarchy were desperate to show they were still a dominant force and issued Rooney the contract as a symbol of their power. To drop him on the bench so soon would cause friction with the board who see Rooney as their biggest draw in terms of marketability.
Somehow Louis van Gaal will have to juggle keeping the board happy and keeping Rooney happy, whilst ensuring the team remains cohesive - no pressure!
A word of warning to Manchester United fans: if things do not go according to plan, expect van Gaal to swing the sword and axe many big names. In his two spells at Barcelona, van Gaal had an axe to grind with then World Player of the year, Rivaldo. van Gaal wanted the forward to play on the left wing - something Rivaldo was furious about and ended up leaving the club on a free transfer - even after being an integral part of the 2002 World Cup winning Brazilian squad.
van Gaal also shunted his replacement, Juan Roman Riquelme, onto the left wing too. Riquelme only last one season at the Camp Nou before moving onto Villarreal.